Russian forces fired dozens of missiles at a military base in the western part of Ukraine, just a short distance from its border with Poland, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
At least eight missiles hit the Ukrainian city of Yavoriv on Sunday, hitting a military training center and killing 35 people, the Wall Street Journal reported. The sprawling training center stretches as close as 10 miles from Ukraine’s border with Poland and had recently hosted U.S. troops as part of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine mission.
The Russian missile attack, so close to Poland’s border, raises the risk of a miscalculation that could lead to the NATO ally being hit. Such an event raises the risk of triggering NATO’s Article 5, which states that if one or more NATO members are targeted with an armed attack, the rest of the alliance will consider it an attack on all of them and will act in collective self-defense. If a Russian attack were to cause NATO to invoke Article 5, it would pit nuclear-armed Russia against nuclear-armed NATO allies, including the U.S., U.K., and France.
The Russian attacks were visible from the Polish side of the Polish-Ukrainian border.
The Russian missile strikes in Yavoriv also come a day after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that western shipments of weapons to Ukraine would be considered “legitimate targets” and attacked by Russian forces. The U.S. and other NATO allies have shipped hundreds of tons of man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile launchers to Ukraine in recent weeks.
Poland has also recently proposed trading in their older Russian MiG fighter jets for newer U.S. aircraft, and then sending those MiGs to Ukraine for their air forces to use. The U.S. has, so far, rejected Poland’s proposal.
Videos from around Yavoriv showed the damage from the Russian missile strikes on Sunday.
The U.S. and other NATO nations had used The International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) to train Ukrainian troops. Members of the Florida National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, known as Task Force Gator, had been at the facility as recently as early February, to train Ukraine’s forces. By Feb. 12, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had ordered those Florida National Guard troops to leave the country, Military Times reported.
Earlier this week, the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) announced the U.S. would send two Patriot missile defense systems to Poland.
“This defensive deployment is being conducted proactively to counter any potential threat to U.S. and Allied forces and NATO territory,” EUCOM said.
The pair of Patriot missile defense systems could help protect against an errant Russian missile strike or intentional attack.
The two new Patriot missile defense systems could be integrated with the two other Patriot systems already in Poland’s possession.